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My School of Medicine

Reporting Student Mistreatment

The School of Medicine is committed to a safe and equitable environment for all of our learners. Resources for discussing or reporting mistreatment are included below. 

If you would like to report student mistreatment, please complete the SAFE (Supporting A Fair Environment) Form

Please note that SAFE reports will be sent to Eric R. Williams, M.D., Assistant Dean for Student Affairs (eric.williams@uscmed.sc.edu, office: 803-216-3616, cell: 803-727-9788).

Williams is a mandated reporter and is required to inform the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination if he becomes aware that a student (undergraduate, graduate, or professional) may have experienced conduct prohibited by the USC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy or the USC Nondiscrimination Policy Statement, even if it is reported anonymously.

If you would like to discuss an incident with a confidential resource, several are available:

The educational program in the School of Medicine has been developed to support and encourage the collegiality and professionalism essential to an effective learning environment. Students who believe that they have been punitively assessed or mistreated because of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or other factors have access to the School of Medicine ombudspersons.

The ombudspersons are empowered to receive and investigate reports of mistreatment in a completely confidential manner, to mediate between the parties involved, and, in the event mediation is not successful, to make recommendations directly to the dean of the School of Medicine regarding appropriate resolution of any complaints.

The use of the ombudspersons’ services to resolve a complaint represents a form of alternate dispute resolution. For this reason, the services of the ombudspersons will no longer be available to a student once that student engages an attorney to initiate legal action against the School of Medicine, the University of South Carolina, or the employees of those institutions.

M-I and M-II Students
Jay Potts, Ph.D.
Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy
School of Medicine
Email: Jay.Potts@uscmed.sc.edu
Phone: 803-216-3820

M-III and M-IV Students
Robin B. Welsh, M.D.
Department of Pediatrics
14 Medical Park, Suite 400
Email: Robin.Welsh@palmettohealth.org
Phone: 803-479-1999

Florence Regional Campus Students
Brittany Rainwater, Psy.D.
McLeod Family Medicine Center
Email: Brittany.Rainwater@mcleodhealth.org
Phone: 843-777-2826

As your PALs (Peer Advocate Liaisons), we hope to provide you with access to the resources you need if an incident of mistreatment occurs. We hope to foster an environment of confidentiality in order to protect students disclosing any issues with mistreatment. Reporting issues of mistreatment will not only help to protect you, but also your peers and future medical students.

M4 PALs

Evan Abdullah

Evan Abdullah, Florence

evan.abdullah@uscmed.sc.edu 843-810-3939

Soniya Joseph

Soniya Joseph, Columbia

soniya.joseph@uscmed.sc.edu864-990-7585

Sarah Lammert

Sarah Mae Lammert-Sarmiento, Florence 

sarahmae.lammert@uscmed.sc.edu;724-787-6087

David Weatherford

Grayson Weatherford, Columbia

grayson.weatherford@uscmed.sc.edu;910-622-4086


M3 PALs

Julia Bian

Julia Bian, Florence

julia.bian@uscmed.sc.edu803-800-7004

Kayla Ferguson

Kayla Ferguson, Columbia

kayla.ferguson@uscmed.sc.edu 864-607-7402

Lucas Padgett

Lucas Padgett, Columbia

lucas.padgett@uscmed.sc.edu843-452-1558


For more information on the Guidelines for Conducts in Teacher/Learner Relationships, the USC Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy and the USC Non-Discrimination Policy Statement, see below.

Guidelines for Conducts in Teacher/Learner Relationships [pdf]

I. Statement of Philosophy

The University of South Carolina School of Medicine is committed to fostering an environment that promotes academic and professional success in learners and teachers at all levels. The achievement of such success is dependent on an environment free of behaviors which can undermine the important mission of our institution. An atmosphere of mutual respect, collegiality, fairness, and trust is essential. Although both teachers and learners bear significant responsibility in creating and maintaining this atmosphere, teachers also bear particular responsibility with respect to their evaluative roles relative to student work and with respect to modeling appropriate professional behaviors. Teachers must be ever mindful of this responsibility in their interactions with their colleagues, their patients, and those whose education has been entrusted to them.

II. Responsibilities in the Teacher/Learner Relationship

A. Responsibilities of Teachers

1. Treat all learners with respect and fairness.
2. Treat all learners equally regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
3. Provide current material in an effective format for learning.
4. Be on time for didactic, investigational, and clinical encounters.
5. Provide timely feedback with constructive suggestions and opportunities for improvement/remediation when needed.

B. Responsibilities of Learners

1. Treat all fellow learners and teachers with respect and fairness.
2. Treat all fellow learners and teachers equally regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation.
3. Commit the time and energy to your studies necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of each course.
4. Be on time for didactic, investigational, and clinical encounters.
5. Communicate concerns/suggestions about the curriculum, didactic methods, teachers, or the learning environment in a respectful, professional manner.

III. Behaviors Inappropriate to the Teacher/Learner Relationship
These behaviors are those which demonstrate disrespect for others or lack of professionalism in interpersonal conduct. Although there is inevitably a subjective element in the witnessing or experiencing of such behaviors, certain actions are clearly inappropriate and will not be tolerated by the institution. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

• unwanted physical contact (e.g. hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing) or the threat of the same;
• sexual harassment (including romantic relationships between teachers and learners in which the teacher has authority over the learner’s academic progress) or harassment based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation;
• loss of personal civility including shouting, personal attacks or insults, displays of temper (such as throwing objects), use of culturally insensitive language;
• discrimination of any form including in teaching and assessment based upon age, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation;
• requests for other to perform inappropriate personal errands unrelated to the didactic, investigational, or clinical situation at hand;
• grading/evaluation on factors unrelated to performance, effort, or level of achievement.

IV. Avenues for Addressing Inappropriate Behavior in the Teacher/Learner Context

A. Learners’ Concerns
Learners may address situations in which they feel that they have been the object of inappropriate behavior at various levels. At the most basic level, the most effective way to handle a situation may be to address it immediately and non-confrontationally. Oftentimes, a person is simply unaware that his/her behavior has offended someone, or even if aware, will correct the behavior appropriately if given the opportunity to do so in a way that is not threatening. The way to raise such an issue is to describe the behavior factually (“When you said…”) describe how the behavior made you feel (“I felt…”), and state that the behavior needs to stop or not be repeated (“Please, don’t do that again.”)

Sometimes, such a request is not successful, or the person repeats the behavior, or the learner does not feel comfortable speaking directly to the teacher about his/her behavior. In those cases, it may be helpful to discuss the behavior with course/clerkship directors, laboratory mentors, program directors or department chairs. Students may also elect to speak to any one of the Assistant Deans or the Associate Dean in the Office of Medical Education and Academic Affairs, the Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs, the Director of Student Services, or one of the School of Medicine’s three Ombudspersons for informal advice and counsel about these issues.

These individuals may offer additional suggestions for resolving the matter informally, such as, for example, speaking to the individual on the learner’s behalf or on behalf of an entire class, raising the general issue in a faculty meeting, assisting the learner with writing to the individual teacher or even direct intervention to get the behavior to stop.

If no satisfactory resolution is reached after these discussions or the learner does not feel comfortable speaking to these individuals, he/she may bring the matter formally to the attention of the School of Medicine administration. The avenues for this more formal reporting vary depending upon the status of the reporting individual. In either case the learner always has the option of submitting a formal complaint to the University’s Student Grievance Committee through the procedure outlined in the Carolina Community [pdf] http://www.sc.edu/policies/staf627.pdf).

1. If the person reporting the behavior is a medical student: The student should speak with the Director of Student Services, the Associate Dean for Medical Education and Academic Affairs, or one of the school’s Ombudspersons.

2. If the person reporting the behavior is a graduate student or MD/PhD student pursuing their graduate studies: The student should speak with the Director of Student Services of the Director of Graduate Studies Program.

B. Teachers’ Concerns

If a teacher feels that a learner has engaged in inappropriate behavior, it is likewise most effective to address the situation immediately and non-confrontationally. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, the teacher should contact the course/clerkship director, program director, or laboratory mentor to discuss the matter, If the teacher wishes to make a formal allegation of misconduct, they should contact the following members of the administration:

1. If the matter involves a medical student, contact one of the Assistant or Associate Deans in the Office of Medical Education and Academic Affairs;

2. If the matter involves a graduate student, contact the Director of the Graduate Studies Program.

These allegations will be handled on an individual basis by the appropriate School of Medicine official in consultation with the Dean and where applicable according to establish School of Medicine and University Policies.

V. Procedures for Handing Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior in the Teacher/Learner Context

A. Upon being notified of alleged inappropriate behavior, the Associate/Assistant Dean or Program Director will notify the Dean and other appropriate senior administration officials in a written report within 5 business days of the allegation. If the complaint is lodged against a faculty member, other than those matters referred to the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, the matter will be handled by the Dean in consultation with the appropriate Associate Dean and Department Chair and, where established, the appropriate School of Medicine and University polices, The Dean may also choose to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate the complaint.

B. If the behavior involves unlawful discrimination or sexual or other forms of unlawful harassment, the matter will be handled through University policies established for that office. The student may also directly contact that office.

C. If the behavior involves unwanted physical contact or other forms of violent or threatening acts, the matter may be referred to the University’s campus police or appropriate hospital security.

D. The School of Medicine is committed to the fair treatment of all individuals involved in this process. All efforts will be made to maintain the confidentiality of the resolution process to the extent possible and subject to the overriding concern of a prompt fair investigation and/or resolution of the complaint.

E. The School of Medicine will not tolerate any form of retaliatory behavior toward learners who make allegations in good faith. Individuals who believe that action has been taken against them in retaliation for raising concerns under this policy, may address those concerns through the procedures described in this policy or through the Student Grievance Committee.

F. Records of all communications as well as written reports of the Associate/Assistant Deans, Program Directors, and any ad hoc committee (if formed) will be kept in the Dean’s Office.

G. If it is determined that the allegations from the complainant were not made in good faith, the student will be referred for disciplinary action to the Student Academic Responsibility Committee.

The university strives to prevent interpersonal violence and support anyone who has experienced or been affected by it. We encourage you to seek help from the resources available to you. Together we can stop sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence.

Read more about the university's policies and resources regarding sexual violence and harassment.

USC Non-Discrimination Policy Statement  [pdf]

NUMBER: EOP 1.04 SECTION: Equal Opportunity Programs

SUBJECT: Non-Discrimination Policy

DATE: November 17, 2003

REVISED: October 7, 2014

Policy for: All Campuses

Procedure for: All Campuses

Authorized by: Bobby D. Gist Issued by: Equal Opportunity Programs ______________________________________________________________________________

I. Policy A. The University of South Carolina does not discriminate in educational or employment opportunities or decisions on the basis of personal characteristics that are not relevant to an individual's abilities, qualifications, or job performance. Under federal and state law, these characteristics include age, race, color, sex, gender, religion, national origin, genetics, veterans’ status, and disability status. It is the policy of the University that an individual's sexual orientation be treated in the same manner. B. This policy prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation does not apply to the University's relationships with outside organizations including the federal government, the military, ROTC, private businesses, and state government agencies, including benefit and retirement plans administered by those organizations. II. Procedure A. Faculty, staff, or students of the University having a complaint of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation should notify the Equal Opportunity Officer on the campus of the University at which they are employed or enrolled. III. Reason for Revision Policy updated to ensure compliance with State and Federal law.


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